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Hamilton Votes Unanimously For Maaori Wards

Hamilton City Council has voted unanimously to establish Maaori wards in time for the next local government elections.

It will be the first time Council will have dedicated representation for Maaori at the full Council table.

The introduction of Maaori wards means voters on the Maaori electoral roll can vote for candidates contesting Council’s Maaori wards, rather than for a candidate contesting a general ward. Maaori ward candidates do not need to be on the Maaori electoral roll.

The decision was made at an Extraordinary Council meeting today (19 May), following community consultation between 16 April and 10 May.

The consultation sought a range of views on how Council can extend its commitment to making sure Maaori are best represented in its decision-making process.

Council received 994 submissions, with staff analysis indicating that more than four out of five responses (81%) favoured Council introducing Maaori wards to achieve better representation.

Today’s decision means Maaori wards will be in place for the 2022 and 2025 elections. A wider review of Council’s representation arrangements will now take place later this year. This will address how many Maaori ward seats will be introduced, as well as other representation considerations.

Mayor Paula Southgate said today was a “historic day” for Hamilton and that the city would be better for today’s unanimous vote. She thanked her Councillors for careful consideration of all the issues and also thanked those who had shared their views, respectfully and courageously.

“We must continue to have courageous conversations and go forward, together. If we do not, we will not flourish as a city. I want to lead a city where we know and celebrate our differences because we are united on what matters most. I believe that is what everyone in our city wants and today we have taken an important step towards that,” she said.

“Kua tae te wa, kia anga whakamua kotahi tataou. E kii ai te koorero o te haapori, mehemea he kaupapa pai mo ngai maaori, aa he kaupapa rawe mo taatou katoa.”

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